[0.8] Re: hist-games: Latrunculi

Mats Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Wed Nov 30 09:03:14 PST 2005

Den 2005-11-30 13:37:06 skrev <u.schaedler at museedujeu.com>:

> Oh my god, Becq de Fouquières is completely out of date! Forget that
> book!You'd loose the bet. Just read Pollux (Onomastikon IX 97), this is
> THE source for the game, there you'll find the description of it. He says
> the players have 5 pieces on 5 lines (not squares, not 5x5 lines), and he
> who arrives last with his 5th piece on the sacred line in the middle (=
> the central line)looses the game. In another instance (VII 206) he names
> the game in a list of dice games!! No war game at all! No resemblance at
> all to poleis. It's a race game. The game with its five parallel lines and
> the five pieces on the ends of the lines is clearly depicted on a Greek
> vase (early 5th cent. BC) in Bruxellees (D. Vanhove, Le Sport dans la
> Grèce antique. Du Jeu à la Compétition (1992), p. 186 nr. 44). Other vase
> paintings depicting Ajax and Acilleus playing the game show that they use
> dice. In Greek archaeological sites you find such boards with parallel
> lines frequently.
>There were also larger versions of the game around with 9 parallel lines,
> (a terracotta model of such a board in the National Museum Kopenhagen: the
> counters placed at the ends of the lines, traces of 2 dice and a statuette
> of a mourning woman), 7 (etruscan mirror in the Brit. Museum) and 11
> parallel lines (numerous examples). All theses sources are discussed in my
> article.
>Yes, indeed, the Mancala boards which can be seen not only in Crete but
> also in Graeco-Roman sites in Turkey are difficult to date.
> Ulrich
>By the way: Do you know "Board Games Studies", the international journal
> on board game research? See www.boardgamesstudies.org.

:-)  I would probably lose the bet, yes. But one can't be quite sure. War-
games have sometimes been played with dice. One example is "Oblong
chess" in which the die decided which piece one could move.

I, too, have noted how much desinformation there exists in this game
studies business. One example is Wikipedia's article on Fox and Geese.
Hardly anything is correct. It's amazing! But I'm having trouble also with
the scholarly literature. Murray is sloppy. As I've already shown, his
rendition of 16 Rebels is faulty.  Murray also gives a double-board
version called "General against twenty-six rebels," and says that the
same moves are used. However, then it's a loss to the General in the
initial position as he cannot move while he is surrounded by a double
layer of rebels. Now I've investigated his rendition of "Demala
diviyan keliya" ('the Tamil leopards game'). I implemented it and it
didn't work. As he gives Parker (1909) as only source I went to this
source and found that Murray has given an erroneous account of the
board diagram. He misunderstands it as a form of Pulijudam board with
extended arms. I implemented the correct version which works quite

I have linked to www.boardgamesstudies.org from my homepage.


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